Rescue operations are still going on Wednesday after a portion of a 40-year-old bridge collapsed in south Kolkata a day earlier.
A part of the Majherhat bridge between Taratala and Mominpur collapsed around 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday. So far, one person has died and 19 others injured in the accident.
“Our team is still working on the rescue. Overnight and this morning, we tried to dig holes on the concrete slab decks that caved in, to find out whether anyone is still trapped underneath.
“Cameras are also being used to find out what remains below the debris. Removing the rubble would take more time,” a member of the rescue team said on Wednesday.
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), fire brigade and personnel of disaster management teams are at the spot.
Cranes have been deployed and gas cutters were being used for the rescue operation. Three columns of army personnel were also present at the spot.
The West Bengal government has initiated a probe on the incident. “Investigations are going on. At this point, we cannot come to any conclusion regarding the possible reasons behind the accident,” a member of the forensic team said.
Pedestrians and commuters in buses and cars who were on the collapsed structure were rescued.
The bridge was the main connector between central and southwest part of the city. Due to the partial collapse of the bridge, traffics has been diverted. Trams services on some routes have been withdrawn, a Kolkata Traffic Control official said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was in Darjeeling at the time of the accident, has said: “Four-five labourers used to stay in a temporary tin shed under the bridge. If they were there during the collapse, it is possible that something unfortunate may have happened to them.”
Goods vehicles have not been allowed to enter the city between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
State government will pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Soumen Bagh, who died in the accident.
State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said on Tuesday that heavy construction work of the metro project beside the collapsed bridge could have weakened its pillars.
City metro railway authority, however, have ruled out any such possibility.
Amid blame game over the partial collapse of the bridge the Eastern Railway said it was not conducting any maintenance work at the accident site.
However, experts said the bridge was very old and any structural defect or use of inferior quality of material as the reason behind the collapse cannot be attributed.
The bridge has been withstanding heavy vehicles for more than 40 years. The only reason that may trigger the collapse could be “lack of maintenance”.
According to a state official, the 40-year-old bridge was constructed by the Kolkata Port Trust and maintained by State Public Works Department.>